Herschell Gordon Lewis was evidently feeling confident enough in his film making abilities when he set to work on his 1967 picture A Taste of Blood, a straight Horror film without the bankable nudity and splatter that had made his earlier movies so successful. In A Taste of Blood, John Stone, a mild-mannered businessman is transformed into a cantankerous vampire after unwittingly drinking a brandy laced with the blood of his ancestor, Dracula no less, long since dead but still exacting revenge on his enemies by having Stone kill their descendants. Donald Stanford's original screenplay The Secret of Dr. Alucard which relocated the vampire mythos to contemporary America was hardly a novel idea, despite predating Stephen King's novel 'Salem's Lot by several years, Dracula had already stalked 50's California in The Return of Dracula (1958) while the Count was transplanted to more wackier surroundings in William One Shot Beaudine's 1966 Wild West/Horror hybrid Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. Still, the idea of a proxy war fought by the modern day relatives of Dracula and Van Helsing is a genuinely intriguing notion but Lewis almost completely ruins it with the gargantuan slog that is A Taste of Blood.
Running an unrelenting 117mins, A Taste of Blood is a dour, humourless and endlessly talky film. Worse still, the film features only a token amount of bloodshed with the odd stab wound or gashed throat to savour between oceans of dialogue scenes shot in well-furnished living rooms. At least Blood Feast had between bouts of carnage, inept direction and dreadful dialogue to enjoy, A Taste of Blood however has no such pleasant diversions - on this picture, Lewis' directing skills are improved (comparatively speaking) and the screenplay has very few howlers. Fortunately the sequences where the vampire stalks his prey are well-handled - rather than have his vampire skulk around in a cape, flashing a set of fangs, Lewis lights his monster in a blue glow, which makes actor Bill Rogers' pasty crumbling makeup all the more eerie, a cheap but surprisingly effective idea. Also, worthwhile are some subtle nods to classic vampire films, like a scene where a ship's captain is snooping around a coffin Stone has collected in London recalls a similar moment in Nosferatu, while in the film's final act, Stone's wife Helene draped in a billowing nightdress, is summoned trance-like to her husband, echoing a scene from Dracula. Incidentally, lookout for Lewis doubling as the aforementioned ship's captain, complete with cockney accent ("Alrite Guv'nor!") and students of Trash Cinema should keep their eyes peeled for an early screen credit for J.G Patterson, listed here as an associate producer, but better known as the director of the deadly dull Dr. Gore (1973), and the marginally better Electric Chair (1976).